TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | The Florida A&M University football team trailed early in the fourth quarter, but a Ryan Stanley 17-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Smith capped the rally as the Rattlers defeated Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) foe Southern, 27-21, in front of a packed house at Bragg Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
The Rattlers (2-1) led 19-7 at the half, but watched Southern (1-3) score two second-half touchdowns to pull ahead, 21-19, with 14:53 remaining.
After both teams traded punts, Florida A&M took over at their own 19-yard line with 8:03 remaining. The Rattlers marched 81 yards as FAMU completed a 3rd-and-5 from the Southern 36 as Stanely connected with Kaleob Parker for five yards.
Three plays later, Smith caught the 17-yard strike from Stanley to give the Rattlers a 25-21 lead with 3:32 left. Instead of kicking the extra point, FAMU head coach Willie Simmons elected to go for the two-point conversions. Azende Rey found a diving Kamari Young in the endzone to give the Rattlers a 27-21 advantage.
On the ensuing Southern offensive possession, the Jaguars started on their own 9, but went backwards. After a false start penalty, Ladarius Skelton was sacked by Isaiah Land for a 2-yard loss and tackled for no gain as Florida A&M forced a punt.
Davonne Kendrick carried the ball three times for 16 yards as the Rattlers ran out the final 1:34 to give Florida A&M the 27-21 victory.
Florida A&M started strong and took a commanding 17-0 lead into the second quarter.
George Webb caught a 26-yard pass from Stanley with 10:02 left in the opening period and a Derrick Mayweather sack in the endzone gave the Rattlers a 9-0 advantage with 9:54 remaining.
Ray capped the first-quarter scoring on a 2-yard run and the two-point conversion run by Chris Faddoul gave FAMU a 17-0 lead with 2:17 remaining.
Southern capped a 10-play, 99-yard drive as Glendon McDaniel scored on a 1-yard run to cut the deficit to 17-7 with a litte over eight minutes left in the first half.
The Rattlers took advantage of a botched Jaguar punt and converted it into a safety to extend the advantage to 19-7 with 3:51 remaining.
The Jaguars got a 23-yard touchdown pass from Skelton to Jamar Washington in the third quarter and a 9-yard quarterback keeper by Skeltonwith 14:53 left in the fourth quarter to grab a 21-19 lead.
That set the stage for the late-game rally, which gave the Rattlers their 34th victory over the rival Jaguars.
Florida A&M jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter as it appeared the game would be a blowout.
But true to fashion in this rivalry that there would be no blowout.
Southern got a second-quarter touchdown and closed the gap to 19-7 at the half.
Two touchdowns by the Jaguars gave Southern the momentum and a 21-19 lead.
However, the Rattlers put the ball in Ryan Stanley’s hand and the red-shirt senior did the rest. He completed passes to three different receivers during the drive and capped the night with a 17-yard strike to Xavier Smith with 3:32 left.
A block in the back penalty on the ensuing kickoff meant the Jaguars would start from their own 9. Skelton completed a pass to Timothy Bedford for three yars, but a false start penalty backed Southern to its own 5. A sack by Isaiah Land and a tackle by Land for no gain forced Southern to punt the football with 1:34 left.
The Jaguars never got the ball back as the Rattlers ran out the clock.
Inside the Numbers
> Florida A&M finished with 24 first downs
> The Rattlers amassed 473 total yards of offense, including 355 through the air
> Davonne Kendrick rushed 10 times for 36 yards
> Bishop Bonnett added 31 yards on 15 touches
> Ryan Stanley went 24 of 39 passing for 355 yards and two touchdowns
> Xavier Smith caught nine passes for a career-high 201 yards and one score
> David Manigo finished with 55 yards on five receptions
> Doyle Grimes, Andrew Hines, Terry Jefferson and Demontre Moore each recorded six tackles
> Southern finished with 15 first downs
> The Jaguars registered 256 total yards, but were held to just 69 yards rushing
> Devin Benn recorded 39 yards rushing on nine carries
> Ladarius Skelton went 11 of 18 passing for 114 yards and one score
> Jamar Washington caught five passes for 109 yards and one touchdown
> Benjamin Harris led the way defensively with 10 tackles, including eight solo stops
News & Notes
> This was the 61st meeting between Florida A&M and Southern
> Saturday’s attendance was announced as 27,191, which is the largest non-homecoming crowd ever in Bragg Memorial Stadium. The previous high was 19,058 versus Southern in 1999
> Ryan Stanley, 6,753 career passing yards, passed for 355 yards, vaulting him into fourth place on the FAMU career passing list, moving past Antoine “Tony” Ezell (6,620). He is now 85 yards shy of third place (Oteman Sampson-Delancy) and 201 behind second place (Damien Fleming). In fact, Stanley is just 625 yards from record-holder Quinn Gray (7,378 yards)
> The was the first meeting between the two schools since 2012
> Florida A&M improved to 34-26-1 all-time against SWAC foe Southern
> The Rattlers are now 7-4 over the Jaguars in their last 11 meetings
> The FAMU win snapped a streak of 2,919 days since the last victory over Southern
> Saturday’s game marked the 27th time in the series that a game was decided by one point
> Willie Simmons is now 2-2 all-time as a head coach against Southern
> Willie Simmons is also just one win shy of 30 for his collegiate coaching career
> Joe Taylor, former Florida A&M head football coach, was honored from the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame with a ceremony during Virginia Union’s game with Johnson C. Smith on Saturday.
Florida A&M takes to the road to open Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) play next Saturday as the Rattlers visit Norfolk State. Kickoff from William “Dick” Price Stadium is set for 4 p.m. and will be broadcasted live on ESPN3.
The Spartans will enter the game off a 56-21 loss to Montana State on Saturday. The Rattlers won the 2018 game, 17-0, at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
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